London, July 17 :
The battle between a Russian-American duo over control of Amanresorts, the luxury hotel chain acquired from New Delhi-based DLF earlier this year, has seen the London High Court reinstate as chief executive its 81-year-old founder Adrian Zecha. The resort group immediately named former Indian Premier League chief Lalit Modi a member of its advisory board.
“I want to inform you of a monumental development for Amanresorts,” a letter addressed to the Amanresorts staff from what was described as the office of the CEO, said.
“The High Court of London has reinstated the company’s founder and visionary, Adrian Zecha, to his rightful position as chief executive officer, effective immediately. Omar Amanat will assume the role of chairman of the board of directors,” letter added.
Amanresorts, which runs 26 small luxury resorts and hotels worldwide, was first sold to DLF by Zecha and his associates in 2007 and was re-acquired earlier this year for $358 million. The deal, however, excluded the former state-run Lodhi Hotel property in New Delhi that was bought by Aman from the Indian government.
The associates of Zecha included two business tycoons — Russian property honcho Vladislav Doronin and American entrepreneur Omar Amanat.
The letter to employees said Amanresorts will be positioned to pursue the capital and resources needed for extraordinary growth, for which an advisory board has been set up with what it termed as top leaders from the business and public sectors as its members.
Besides Lalit Modi, now based out of London, the members include Alan Hassenfeld, former chairman of toy brand Hasbro, Rutsel Martha, former general counsel of the UN and Interpol, and Louis Freeh, former director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“We look forward to drawing on the exceptional talent, expertise and wisdom of the advisory board as we take Amanresorts to new heights,” the letter said.
Amanat hoped the ruling makes the link between Amanresorts and Zecha clear.
“I am delighted Adrian is now back in charge. He will remain in charge until such time a suitable successor can be found. It is essential to me that Adrian retires in a manner of his own choosing, which requires that his loyal staff, who have helped build up Aman into what is, are looked after,” said Amanat.
Zechan added: “I welcome the court’s ruling and am grateful to have an opportunity to ensure that Amanresorts, a company which I have loved and nurtured for the last two decades, will continue to be a world-class brand with a devoted following. I remain committed to Aman’s growth, while also preserving its spirit.”